woman packing first aid kit and SPF in open travel suitcase

Travelling and medicines

Time to travel overseas?

As summer approaches and with many travel deals on offer, everyone is looking to get out and explore somewhere new. The Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns meant our immune systems’ abilities to fight foreign antibodies was affected and left vulnerable to diseases that we once had immunity too. Although now, as we travel again, there is a higher chance we are exposed to new Coronavirus strains and other viruses as well.

Common diseases

Numerous diseases around the world can affect your health and holiday plans. Common diseases known to be caught when visiting different countries are Bali Belly, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Typhoid fever and Yellow fever.


Some destinations require you to carry travel insurance and vaccination documents to enter the country. This needs to be checked with the embassy and on smarttraveller.com. For example, where yellow fever is prevalent, they will require visitors to carry proof of yellow fever vaccination.  

Vaccination appointments should be made at least 12 weeks before you depart. If you have any side effects, you can be treated, and the vaccine will be effective once you arrive at your destination. Vaccinations that you may require include cholera, chickenpox, yellow fever, typhoid, meningococcal diseases, measles, tetanus, rabies, influenza and Covid-19. However, it will depend on the country you are visiting and what vaccinations you have that are up to date.

Planning and expert advice

Before departing for your holiday, you should be aware of these diseases and specific diseases in the region and if you are at high risk of catching them. Those with weakened immune systems such as children, older people and pregnant women, will have a higher risk of potential fatal infections if they don’t take measures against these diseases before and during their travel. Some may even need to undergo a health check-up and be given permission from their specialists to travel. 

For that reason, it’s strongly recommended that you speak to a pharmacist or a doctor about required vaccinations for the specific destination. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines should also be packed in case of other illnesses for your trip.

Medicine bag essentials:

Essentials to pack in your medicine bag when travelling: 

  • Electrolytes
  • Anti-diarrhea medication 
  • Paracetamol 
  • Vaccination and current medication list 
  • Anti-malarial medicine 
  • Motion sickness medicine 
  • Cough medicine/drops 
  • Decongestant spray and hay fever medicine 
  • Insect repellant 
  • Hand sanitiser and antibacterial hand wipes 
  • Insect bite gel/cream
  • Bandages 
  • Antibacterial ointments 
  • Cold and flu tablets 


To seek specific health information on destinations, go to https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/ and speak to your doctor to ensure you are up to date on your vaccinations and if any others are required 12 weeks before departing. It is essential to also have travel insurance that will cover you in case of emergency and any further health conditions.  

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